Splatoon — the messy four-on-four shooter where players coat the stage with colourful ink instead of shooting each other — is growing into an esports platform. The kid-friendly game has been held back by the limitations of the Wii U but now thanks to the Nintendo Switch, the recent changes are proving to be a boon for competitive players.
The journey to the esports scene for Splatoon has been a bumpy ride. The first Splatoon was very popular when it was announced back at E3 2014, but the competitive side faced a barrier according A.C Williams, Event Manager for community Splatoon and Smash organization. “The Wii U, Simply put was not a successful console.” That meant there were not enough players to reach the critical mass necessary for good competition. The release of the popular Nintendo Switch helped to overcome that issue. It also introduced an ethernet port which the Wii U lacked.
Splatoon 2 was released for the Switch and mostly stuck to the formula for Splatoon 1, but includes more twists and varied content than its predecessor. With a friendlier LAN service for Splatoon 2, the stage was set to have Splatoon join Genesis 5, one of the largest tournaments in gaming, with a primarily fighting game focus, featuring games like Street Fighter V, Pokken Tournament DX, and Super Smash Bros.
Thirty Splatoon teams competed — a modest number but far more than any community event for Splatoon prior. SettoDestroyX – A popular esports team in Canada — won the event.
In November, a dedicated Splatoon event called Squid Storm 2017 got over 130 players across 36 teams, which made it the biggest Splatoon event outside of Japan. Even if there are only 7 Even if there are only 7 teams, the hype of winning a close game, is just as exciting as winning a whole tournament. The Clip here is how a team won a very close match. It shows the team that they were very happy about winning that match.
The same goes to the tournament, NintendoFest on June 9, 2019. The Tournament consisted of 5 teams. Some of them were from the last event and some were new to the scene. The bracket was a single elimination tourney. People were practicing with their teams until the tournament starts. As the first match started, the teams were analyzing the match trying to figure out what the other team’s strengths and weaknesses. A team huddled together figuring out what to do while the match was in play. As spectators are eager when the grand finals started, They didn’t imagine that the champions of the last event — 670, Now Royal Rich Diamonds (RRD) were completely getting dominated by a new team called Ezclap. The grand finals ended with Ezclap winning the tournament by beating the Champions, Royal Rich Diamonds from the last event 4-0. A person from Ezclap stated “It was the best feeling in the world when you won an event. ”Someone from the RRD team said, “I can’t believe we got rekt by that team, it shows us that we need to improve more greatly then.”
Nintendo has been encouraging the Splatoon esports scene since the Switch came out. After the Switch trailer tease, Nintendo held an event for Splatoon 2 in which Deadbeat, now SettodestroyX took the win from the Japanese team, Dynameu. This isn’t the only tournament that Nintendo has put up, as Nintendo announced a European Splatoon Championship at the Polymanga convention in Switzerland on March 31 in which featured Pearl and Marina with a Splatoon Virtual Concert. Recently Nintendo held a world championship for E3 2019 featuring three games and one of them is the Splatoon 2 world Championship 2019.
Splatoon 2 eSports is unique in that, while it is as fast-paced as other shooters, it has a cartoonish and silly style that makes even a goofy game like Overwatch look serious by comparison. The major tournaments really helped the game grow to where it is now, but it is still not enough. However, with the help of more major tournaments and Nintendo’s help, it may begin to be recognized around the world.